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The Book:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The Childlike Empress: Between the time loop, everything we learn in The City of Old Emperors, and finding out that she'd drawn Bastian into a world that became more and more impossible for him to escape from even if he was frugal with his wishes and didn't lose his mind without a single warning, it's not too difficult to read The Childlike Empress as the villain of the story.
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  • Bizarro Episode: Chapter XXI, The Star Cloister's only relevance to the plot is that Bastian loses Al Tsahir before its intended use. Not even the fact that Bastian brought Atreyu with him is even mentioned again.
  • Ho Yay: When Atreyu announces that he has found the Savior (Bastian) everyone throws a great party and Atreyu and Bastian are described as Holding Hands all through the night. This continues long after everyone else has fallen asleep, when they hear Falkor's song, an event described as being a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and they are overwhelmed "with the joy of meeting a new friend." Not to mention that Bastian's admiration of Atreyu before going into the book sounds a bit like a budding crush at times.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Childlike Empress actually appears in only three chapters. It's a plot point that no one can meet her more than once.
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  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Child finds a passageway into another world and becomes written into a story leaving his mundane life behind? Sounds like a lot of children's books today. Except this trope wasn't as common back in the day.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The idea that imagination, fantasy and willingness to fight apathy is stronger now more than ever.
  • Woolseyism: The dragon's name was Fuchur in the original German book. Apparently they changed it because it sounds like future in English. Or, if pronounced a certain way, an obscenity.

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The Film adaptations:

  • Accidental Innuendo: The great threat in the third film is "the Nasty", leading to perhaps one of the most unintentionally funny lines ever;
    Childlike Empress: We must not give into the Nasty!
  • Adaptation Displacement: In the English-speaking world, the first movie is far better-known than the book, despite covering only roughly half of the book's length.
  • Awesome Music: The title song by Limahl. Inspired countless remixes. The lack of it in the third movie was greatly missed.
  • Badass Decay: In the third movie:
    • The Old Man of Wandering Mountain.
    • Practically every character, especially Falkor and Bastian.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Bastian in the first movie. He's either cute and relatable, or whiny and annoying. In the sequels... he gets worse.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Rock Biter singing "Born To Be Wild" in III.
  • Colbert Bump: The downright reverent appearance of the film's theme song in the Season 3 finale of Stranger Things naturally got a lot of people talking about the movie again.
  • Designated Hero: Bastian in the third movie. The Old Man of Wandering Mountain describes him as "a special young human, a voracious reader, with great imagination and extraordinary courage", traits that Bastian does not possess this time around. Bastian never does anything with the power of the Auyrn and sits around hoping the problem will go away, while the bratty sister and even the villains use the power they are given.
  • Designated Villain: Bastian's stepsister in the third movie may be a witch, but she actually does something with the power she obtains, and while what she does with it is selfish, Bastian's calling her out for screwing things up falls flat since he could have avoided it all by actually doing something with it himself when he had the chance. Also, she's part of why he wins the final fight, by using the book to give him super kung-fu moves. While he's still got the amulet and, as noted under Idiot Plot, still isn't using it.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Falcor in the first film.
    • Artax. He has five minutes of screen time, most of which is him dying, yet is one of the most remembered parts of the movie.
    • Slip the bully from the third film, due to being played by a delightfully over-the-top Jack Black.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The third film. If you need help understanding why, look no further than this recap.
  • First Installment Wins: Though the sequelitis helped.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Bastian's gelled-up hair in the 3rd movie. According to The Agony Booth's recap:
    Over the next few scenes, everyone laughs at Bastian's hair, but to be honest, his hairdo looks completely ordinary and commonplace circa 2008. You could go to any shopping mall in America and see plenty of kids with their hair just like this. So, in fact, NeverEnding Story III was a trendsetter, and well over a decade ahead of its time!
    • Also from the third movie, Slip, played by Jack Black, engages Bastian in a martial arts fight.
    • The third film is Megamind's first appearance.
    • The Neverending Story ended after it's third movie, which isn't all that funny by itself. However, a few years after the first film was released, a certain dragon-ridingly popular video game franchise debuted on the NES, and would go on to have countless sequels, spinoffs, crossovers, and supplementary installments in other mediums, despite its own name implying otherwise. In other words, The Neverending Story ended, but Final Fantasy has yet to have its final installment (and likely never will for a long, long time).
  • Ho Yay: In the first film, Bastian seems to have a crush on Atreyu, just from reading about him. Especially when he's first about to appear, and Bastian gets this big smile on his face and whispers Atreyu's name reverently.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • In the sequel, Bastian is given the power to wish for anything and have it come true via the Auryn, and doesn't have the brains to consider simply wishing away the entire conflict. Considering he didn't yet know there were consequences to making wishes, there was no reason for his behavior except plain thoughtlessness.
      • In one scene in the sequel, Bastian wishes a way into Xayide's fortress, and a series of ledges appear for him to climb up. Halfway up, the ledges run out so what does he do? He says "I wish for a step, I wish for another, I wish for another step, and I wish for another step." Even if he doesn't know that he loses a memory each time he does makes a wish, it's still a hassle doing it his way and idiotic. How about "I wish for a staircase" or "I wish I was inside this place." The witch is understandably smiling with delight as she watches him piss away all his wishes and memories in one sitting.
      • In another scene, Bastian and Atreyu are attacked by some of Xayide's monsters, and Atreyu says they need weapons. What does Bastian wish for? A spray can! While it does work (he sprays it in the monster's eyes), it's still extremely baffling that he didn't wish for something more practical like a sword or even a gun for that matter.
    • The third movie is much worse. Bastian leaves the Auryn out in the open in his bedroom, where it is promptly taken by Nicole. And towards the end, when facing Slip, Bastian actually gives into his "Fight me like a man" spiel, even though he's got the Auryn back, and could easily wreak all kinds of vengeance upon him. In fact, Bastian barely uses the Auryn, even when he can just use it to solve the conflict at the very moment he arrives back to the real world, due to reasons that just boil down to "No, Bastian."
  • Iron Woobie: Atreyu in the first film.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Nicole from the third movie. She treats Bastian like crap before she's given a reason to really hate him and she abuses the power of the Orin (which was a result of Bastion leaving it in the open). However, the movie shows that she misses her biological father and was concerned about her mom and stepdad. Also, some Character Development led to her bonding with Bastian, despite the earlier conflict.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Come for me, G'mork! I am Atreyu!"
    • That shot of Bastian cheering as he rides Falcor.
  • Narm: In the first film, every time Bastian reacts to what he's reading, it's pure narm.
    • When we first see Morla, Bastian looks up from the book and randomly screams at the top of his lungs, creating a hilariously narmy moment. His simply screaming in shock at something he was reading would be bad enough, but the shot instead feels like he paused and then gave a loud scream deliberately for absolutely no reason.
    • And of course, when Bastian actually does cry out the name he's chosen for the Empress. His scream of her name is so unintelligible that the initial DVD release's subtitles didn't even have anything for it. For the record, he's screaming "Moon Child", but the way he screams it: "Maaaaaaaaahoon-chaaaaaaaaaa-eeyuuuuuuld!" makes it damn near impossible to understand even if you know what he's saying. It's meant to be a hugely dramatic moment for him, but comes off like a kid randomly screaming out a window.
    • In the first film the Big Bad is "The Nothing" an intangible concept of humankind losing their ability to dream and create given physical representation, in the second film the Big Bad is "The Emptiness", a destructive force commanded by the evil sorceress Xayide who wishes to use Bastian by having his wishes drain away his memories. The third movie? The Big Bad are some high school gang of thugs called "The Nasty" from the real world ... a seriously sad step down from the previous enemies.
  • Narm Charm: By all rights, the Swamp of Sadness scene should not work at all. We've barely seen anything of Atreyu's bond with Artax, and the whole concept of a horse being depressed is a bit weird. But Noah Hathaway's performance combined with the music completely sells the emotion of the scene, and made it an iconic Tearjerker for everyone who saw the film as kids.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • As mentioned in Narm, Bastian's incomprehensible screaming of his mother's name is a frequently heard joke.
    • The constant changing and recasting of all the characters throughout the series and the entire third film are these for the franchise.
    • The scene in the second film where Bastian wishes for a spray can to ward off Xayide's monsters.
    • Any time in the two sequels where Bastian fails to use his wishes to get himself out of danger, which unfortunately is all too frequent.
    • "Born to Be Wild" is this for the third film by itself.
    • The fact that the above-mentioned song replaced the classic theme performed by Limahl in the end credits, omitting the song entirely from the third film.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Jack Black plays the bully in part III. Also, the brief appearance of Deep Roy in the first film might be worth mentioning.
  • Rooting for the Empire: In the third film Slip, the villain, shows more initiative and charm than Bastian, who spends the whole film sitting around trying to hope his problems away. As a result, viewers tend to hope that he wins out in the end. Being played by Jack Black also helps.
  • Sacred Cow: The first film is considered this by many lovers of fantasy flicks.
  • The Scrappy:
    • The Rock Biter baby and the Bark Troll in the third movie literally contribute absolutely nothing to the story. The latter may also be a Creator's Pet, seeing how he's given so many idiotic puns for every scene.
    • Rockbiter himself in the third, where he is given an irritating child, an irritating wife, and sings an out-of-tune rendition of "Born To Be Wild" all in the third film.
    • Also in the second and third movies, Bastian. He is given an amulet that allows him the power to do anything...and does nothing with it. Even his sister and the villains in the third movie do more with it then he does.
  • Sequelitis: Neither of the two sequels are considered anywhere near as good as the first. Opinions as to whether or not the second film is still watchable despite the drop-off in quality vary, but virtually nobody will defend the third film.
  • So Bad, It's Good: At best, many people see the third movie as this, finding its artistic and creative decisions so baffling and backwards to the previous movies that they become unintentionally funny. Doug Walker and his brother Rob even admit in their Real Thoughts video on the movies that they actually consider the second one to be worst due to finding it boring (though they both agree is still objectively better than the third), while comparing the third one to The Room due to how unintentionally hilarious they foundit , in contrast to his Nostalgia Critic review where he had his character show nothing but hatred for the movie.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • The optical effects in the first film haven't really held up over the years. The second films' costumes and effects are mostly a step down (Sans Falkor and Rockbiter, who were recycled from the previous film) and of the third... OH SWEET JESUS! WHAT HAPPENED TO FALKOR!? This is in spite of them having the otherwise well-regarded Jim Henson's Creature Shop do the puppets and costumes in the third film.
    • The CGI in the third film hasn't aged well either, though it was pretty bad to begin with.
  • Squick: The way Falcor smiles at Atreyu is... rather unsettling. There are parody videos on Youtube turning him into a Memetic Molester.
  • Superlative Dubbing: The German dub is preferred by some. The voice acting is quite good, and the German script itself is rather more complex than the original.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • What many readers of the book and its creator think about the movies.
    • How many fans see the characters in the sequels, especially the infamous "Born To Be Wild" sequence.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The whole idea of schoolyard bullies getting their hands on the book could have worked, if the writers had actually given a damn, as well as Fantasia characters exploring the human world for a change, as opposed to the other way around. Unfortunately, it's played purely for comedy and not very good comedy at that. Heck, even the random changes to the characters could've worked if it'd been tied into the bullies getting their hands on the book instead of being random, it could've shown the damage they're causing.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Everyone in the third movie, but especially Jack Black, who plays a poorly written, one-dimensional character like a diabolical mastermind. Possibly averted with Thomas Petruo (Large Head), who said in an interview that he had a lot of fun in the role.
  • Uncanny Valley: Falkor's appearance, even in the first movie, can have this effect on some viewers. His face is... well, almost like a dog's. Almost. And then there's Nimbly, whose obviously human eyes on an avian body are pretty disturbing.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The practical effects in the first film are nothing short of impressive, particularly in the way of the animatronics and the very convincingly realized world of Fantasia.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Quite a few mistook Atreyu to be a girl.
  • Vindicated by History: The second film got a pretty polarized reaction from critics and fans when it was initially released, but opinions softened as time went on, appreciating that unlike the third film, it at least gave respectful and accurate portrayals of the characters from the first film and was a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to adapt the second half of the novel for the screen.
  • The Woobie: Bastian in the first film.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • The difference in voice actors for Falkor and Rock Biter is jarringly noticeable, not to mention John Wesley Shipp as Bastian's father vs. Gerald McRainey in the original.
    • The third film's villain is played by Jack Black. To be fair though, he's often considered the best part of the movie.
    • Julie Cox, who played the Childlike Empress in the third film, is an example of both this and Dawson Casting, considering that she was 19 during filming and a good couple of inches taller than Jason James Richter, who played Bastian. In fact, Cox is only slightly younger in real-life than Tami Stronach, the Empress from the first film — which was made ten years before the third. That being said, Cox would actually have been a decent casting choice if the Empress had a Plot-Relevant Age-Up in the film, as she is believable as an older version of Stronach's character.

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